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The Odd Truth, April 2, 2003

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Kitchen Table Castration

PONTIAC, Mich. - Prosecutors say Shuo-Shan Wang performed a castration on a kitchen table without a medical license.

The engineer from Taiwan, who is in the United States on a student visa, was arrested in June after a man began hemorrhaging outside his home following a voluntary castration.

Wang pleaded guilty in December to charges of practicing medicine without a license and dispensing prescription medicine without a license.

He withdrew his plea in February after an Oakland County judge said he would sentence the man to more than six months in jail.

The felony charge of practicing medicine without a license carries up to four years in prison upon conviction.

Wang's attorney, Steve Reina, has said his client doesn't deserve a harsh punishment because he has no prior criminal record and performed the castration on a Birmingham man who requested the procedure.

But Assistant Prosecutor Ken Frazee said consent is no defense.

Authorities say Wang operated at his home in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park. Afterward, he and the 48-year-old man shared some pie at the same table. Wang did not charge for the surgery.

The man was seeking the castration because he had a sexually transmitted disease and no longer wanted a sex drive, prosecutors have said. He found Wang while searching the Internet for someone to castrate him.

Wang told police he learned the skill from his grandparents. He performed his first surgery on a dog and then on the dog's owner and three of the owner's friends in Australia, prosecutors said.

April Fool Gets Busted

COLUMBUS, Ohio - An April Fool's Day joke backfired on a clothing store clerk after she called her manager at home and said the store was being robbed at gunpoint.

When Sitra Walker, 22, called back a few minutes later to shout, "April fool," her manager had already dialed 911.

Four police cruisers swooped down on the store.

Police weren't laughing when they learned it was a prank.

Walker was arrested for inducing panic, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

She also was fired.

The manager, Summer Hunt, said Walker had worked at the store for about two weeks.

Never Touch Another Man's Pumpkins

BERWICK, Pa. - An arrest warrant has been issued for a man who failed to appear in court on charges he sold another man's pumpkins and tried to pocket the profits.

Bertis Dennis, who faces three misdemeanor counts of theft, said Tuesday that he thought his attorney had postponed the hearing.

"My lawyer was supposed to have it canceled and never canceled it," Dennis said.

Authorities said Dennis collected $100 from two women whom he allowed to pick some 70 pumpkins last fall. The Press Enterprise of Bloomsburg ran a photo of the women picking pumpkins on Oct. 4.

But the pumpkins belonged to Brian Campbell, who saw the picture in the paper and called the women to ask who had given them permission to harvest from his field.

Campbell called the police, and the police contacted Dennis, who offered to give Campbell the $100. Dennis said he thought Campbell was finished harvesting from the field.

Campbell said the pumpkins were worth about $8 each, far more than the $100 that Dennis collected. "We didn't even make a profit on the fields that year because of the drought," Campbell said.

Parents These Days ...

WEBB CITY, Missouri - A young southwest Missouri woman dropped her three-year-old nephew off at the wrong house yesterday in Webb City.

She thought the home was that of the boy's grandparents. The man who took the child in thought it must belong to one of his roommates. But when the roommate arrived in about an hour, he said he had no idea who the boy was.

Police conducting a neighborhood canvass found the grandparents. They were unaware that the child, whose parents are separated, was due at their home.

Webb City Police Chief Don Richardson said today it was a comedy of errors that turned out OK - although it shows how kids today get kicked around. The boy spent last night with the Division of Family Services, before being re-united today with his mother.

Airport To Auction Sharp Objects

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Travelers will get a chance to buy back thousands of knives, scissors, corkscrews and nail clippers taken from them at security checkpoints at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

Kent County will hold a public auction sometime during the "next couple months" to sell off the airport's growing collection of sharp, confiscated objects, said Jon Denhof, county purchasing chief. After expenses associated with the sale, the airport would keep any profits.

Because of terrorism fears, state law and federal security regulations prohibit passengers from carrying sharp objects onto airplanes. The vast majority of confiscated items at the Ford airport are knives, such as the Swiss Army knife and the Leatherman, an all-in-one tool with many uses.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration, which inspects carryon bags, gives seized knives to airport police. Officials regularly hear impassioned pleas from travelers seeking the return of their knives after their trips.

They cannot be given back.

Rockford resident Tom Hines said he wants to recover a Swiss Army knife that was a Father's Day gift from his children about three years ago.

Bob Koroknay-Palicz forgot that his small, multifunctional knife was in a carryon bag that he took to the airport in February, and had to forfeit it. The Holland man said he plans to buy back the knife at the auction, even though he could easily replace it.

Letters Of The Law

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. - The law firm Berger, Kahn, Shafton, Moss, Figler, Simon & Gladstone has decided its name was too much of a mouthful.

Now it will just be Berger Kahn.

"Everybody is delighted," managing partner Allen Michel said Tuesday.

The change - dropping 13 syllables to just three - is part of a trend among law firms with long names to shorten them.

"When we were younger, many of us, including me, thought we needed our name on the door to feel important," said Craig Simon, another managing partner. "Now that we are wiser, we know that seven names is too many."

Michel said his colleagues voted unanimously for the change partly because they hear chuckles in the courtroom each time they mention the firm's name.

The change means his office will "save a lot of ink and toner" when printing documents with the firm's name.

There's also another benefit.

"We expect our receptionist to be able to handle more calls without saying the full firm's name," Michel said.